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Relational schemas to investigate the process of leadership emergence

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Distancing itself from the traditional focus of leadership research on the behaviors and traits characteristic of "leaders," the paper argues that leaders emerge out of a process of social construction. Drawing from relational schema theory, it is argued that group members form leadership perceptions that conform to a limited set of shared "hierarchical" relational schemas. Accordingly, whenever the leadership perceptions of an individual do not conform (i.e., they are hierarchically inconsistent) with those of other group members, he/she is induced to reduce such inconsistencies by aligning his/her own leadership perceptions. The paper tests this argument using a multi-method, multi-study approach. Study 1 follows the process of leadership emergence within a newly formed social group, showing how hierarchical relational schemas are reflected in the evolving network of leadership choices within the group. Study 2 uses a vignette experiment to directly test how hierarchical relational schemas affect people's leadership perceptions.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/43119/

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